DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 25 February 2019: Listen, Climate Bonds Initiative: Big Hydro is NOT climate solution

As about 500 global financiers meet in London on March 5-7, 2019, one of the items on agenda pushed by Big Hydro lobby is criteria to include Big Hydro as climate solution. As following Comment in Nature shows, this is completely based on lobbying efforts and not based on merit of the case. If the merits of large hydro were to looked at objectively, there is absolutely no case of inclusion of Large Hydro as climate solution. In fact, the article does not attempt to list the severe, widespread and long lasting adverse social and environmental impacts of large hydro. Today when there is BIG question mark over even economic viability of large hydro, such attempts are clearly uncalled for. Hope the global financiers will see through this lobbying effort. 

The World Hydropower Congress will meet in Paris during May 14-16, 2019. Their program says:

Following over two years of discussions with industry, academia, governments and international NGOs, the Climate Bonds Initiative, an investor-focused not-for-profit is due to launch a consultation later this year on proposed green bond criteria for hydropower. This criteria is seen as key to fully unlocking the market to the hydropower sector, as to date it has been held back a lack of clarity over appropriate standards. https://congress.hydropower.org/2019-paris/programme/green-bonds-for-hydropower/

This shows that the Congress, essentially a Hydropower Lobby meeting, is also interconnected with the Climate Bond Initiative on Hydropower. 

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 1 October 2018: Hungry Water Effect due to Dams & Unsustainable Sand Mining Worsened Kerala Floods

Dams and reservoirs make rivers sediment-starved and menacing manifold downstream. While heavy rainfall is also a key factor behind the floods, hungry water had a more pronounced effect, says D. Padmalal, Scientist and Head, Hydrological process group, National Centre for Earth Science Studies.

– “When the sediment transport is interrupted, the potential energy of the hungry water released from dams will scour the river banks downstream, uprooting trees or riparian vegetation and damaging bridges and other engineering structures,” explains Dr. Padmalal. Overloaded with silt and clay from the eroding river banks, the highly turbid and viscous water clogs drainage channels. Subsequent discharge of water from the dam will lead to inundation and waterlogging of large areas.

– Hungry water can also develop in high gradient river channels devoid of adequate quantity of sand and gravel, especially during periods of high rainfall. “Years of uncontrolled sand mining have left most of the rivers in Kerala depleted or exhausted of sand and gravel. This creates a situation similar to the release of hungry water from dams,” notes Dr. Padmalal. When the river channel has adequate supply of sand and gravel, the potential energy of the water is used to transport the mixture. The water does not scour the banks or turn muddy.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 3 Sept 2018: CHINA HAS STARTED DECOMMISSIONING DAMS

In a mountain village in southwest China’s Sichuan province, authorities have demolished seven small dam projects this year along a river to clear illegal developments in a new nature reserve. The demolition is part of a nationwide programme to close hundreds of tiny and often ramshackle dams and turbines and bring order to China’s massive hydropower sector after years of unconstrained construction.

The dams sat on an unnamed tributary of the fierce and flood-prone Dadu river, which feeds into the Yangtze, Asia’s largest and longest river, where the government says the “irregular development” of thousands of small hydropower projects has wrecked the ecology. But green groups say the campaign will not necessarily save the environment because it will not affect big state hydropower stations, which they say have caused the most damage.

On the 48 km Zhougong, authorities have already demolished small projects built in nature reserves or encroaching upon new “ecological red lines” drawn up to shield a quarter of China’s territory from development.

The government says small dams have disrupted the habitats and breeding patterns of many rare species of fish, although green groups argue the damage wrought by bigger dams is more severe, with entire towns and ecosystems submerged in water, which they say increases the risk of earthquakes, landslides and even climate change.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 25 September 2017 (Three Incidents of Canals & Dam Breach In Two Days, Who Is Responsible?)

This week there have been three incidents of canals and dam breach in three States raising concern over quality of construction of dams and canals in India. 

All these incidents are a result of negligence exercised by concerned departments. These incidents also proves that the quality of construction of dams and canals in India is not as par standard. 

It is surprising that no government official or private contractor has been held responsible for these avoidable incidents. To avoid recurrence of such incidents, governments of these states bring the involved officials and persons to justice. It also strictly monitor the quality of construction to avoid wastage of public money. The safety of the public is also uncompromising and hence should not rush through the irrigation projects without proper consultation care. 

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 18 September 2017 (Why Madhaya Pradesh Depleted Its Meagre Water Storage To Fill up SSP Dam For Sept 17?)

As per the Daily Status Reports of Narmada Control Authority[iv], inflow into SSP Dam suddenly jumped from 495 cumecs (Cubic Meters per second) on Sept 12, to 2518 cumecs on Sept 13, 2383 cumecs on Sept 14 and 2210 cumecs on Sept 15, 2384 cumecs on Sept 16, in anticipation of the birthday, so that when Narendrabhai visits the dam site to formally declare the project complete, the reservoir is seen to have substantial water. Expectedly, SSP water level rose from 126.19 m to 128.5 m by 8 am on Sept 15. How was this made possible?

Madhya Pradesh depletes its water storage so that SSP looks full on Sept 17? The increased inflow into SSP was made possible only by increased outflow from upstream Madhya Pradesh dams like Indira Sagar Project (ISP) on Narmada. ISP, incidentally is India’s largest reservoir in terms of storage capacity.

So the ISP storage level which was already very low (about 33%) on Sept 11 with monsoon almost coming to close, was depleted by further 450 MCM (Million Cubic Meters) from Sept 11 to Sept 16 (date for which latest information is available), while SSP water level rose by 750 MCM during the same period. All this, so that water level at SSP could look more respectable on Sept 17. Its not known why Madhya Pradesh is ready to lose water from its low storage levels (in fact, the water level at Omkareshwar Project on Narmada is below Minimum Draw Down level throughout this period).

Will Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and MP Govt be held accountable for this by the media, judiciary and the people?

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 27 March 2017 (DON’T WE NEED TO LEARN TO TRULY CELEBRATE OUR RIVERS?)

This is about the proposed Brahmaputra Festival being planned by the Assam Govt from March 31 to April 4, 2017. The five-day festival will witness significant participation from China. Various other countries such as Vietnam and Singapore are also reported as attending the program. It is scheduled to be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee.  

It is true that the word business appears four times on the opening page of this festival website, but the word flood, erosion and people do not appear even once. This is relevant since for very large sections of people of Assam, the river also means floods, erosion, displacement and disaster on regular basis and not just “lifeline of Assam” or “life-giving prosperity and countless blessings”.  

The festival website also errs in many ways, including when it claims “India’s only male river”, since there are several male rivers, including Damodar, Ajoy, Pagla, Gadadhar, among others. It is true that even the word Nemami is copied from the Nemami Gange, but that should not be such a big issue?

It is true that people also suffer when river dries up or is polluted or is encroached or unsustainably mined, and none of these issues are highlighted by the festival website. It is true that the the Assam also means all the communities, including the bodos and mishing and many others, not just Guwahati or Dibrugarh or Majuli. The festival organisers may argue that we are taking the festival to all 21 districts, but it is important to recognised all communities of Assam.

This is in addition to the fact that Brahmaputra includes all the states of North East India, and more. The Brahmaputra, 2,900 km long, is an international river with 918 km of it flowing in India, 1625 km in China and 337 km in Bangladesh.

It is true that the festival is more about attracting tourists, business and transport along the river. And so it is not even giving a comprehensive picture of the rivers of Brahmaputra basin in Assam, nor is there attempt to do anything to improve the state of the rivers. Similarly, the destruction of the rivers of Guwahati and Assam needs to be halted and reversed, and may be this occasion can be used to push that advocacy?

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 23 Jan. 2017 (Unjustified Ken-Betwa Link Costs: Bundelkhand To Gain Nothing, Panna To Lose Its Tigers)

SANDRP Blog Little for Bundelkhand, lot for contractors in Ken Betwa river-link The official executive summary of the Detailed Project Report of KBLRP on NWDA website says: “The main objective of the Ken-Betwa link project is to make available water to water deficit areas of upper Betwa basin through substitution from the surplus waters of Ken basin.” Upper Betwa basin (Raisen and Vidisha districts of MP) is not in Bundelkhand. So KBLRP is essentially facilitating export of water from drought prone Bundelkhand to area outside Bundelkhand, which, in fact is well endowed with over 900 mm of average annual rainfall.

The DPR further says, a third o the surplus water will be utilized for “enroute irrigation of 0.60 lakh ha. in the districts of Tikamgarh and Chhatarpur of MP and Mahoba & Jhansi of U.P.” The claim in the minutes of Expert Appraisal Committee meeting of Dec 30, 2016 that “It is proposed to provide irrigation facility in 6,35,661 ha of area in Panna, Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh Districts of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba and Jhansi Districts in Uttar Pradesh” needs to be put in context here. Firstly, this claim is far in excess of what the presumed surplus water can irrigate.

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 09 Jan. 2017 (India Continues to Witness Decline in Groundwater: Govt Report)

Ground water recharge plan is a non-starter Though the latest report, covering assessment of ground level situation as on March, 2013, is still being compiled, sources in the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) hinted at further increase in the number of `dark’ (over-exploited) units. Decline in ground water level due to over exploitation of available resources had prompted the Centre in 2013 to come out with a master plan for artificial recharge of ground water, specifying how different states would go about it on priority. But majority of the states have, so far, not implemented the master plan. Only six states -MP, Gujarat, W-Bengal, UP, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka have taken follow-up actions despite the fact that the number of `dark’ units increased from 802 in March, 2009 to 1,071 in March, 2011. This not only says what the title mentions, but also shows how slow our official agencies are in even coming up with groundwater data, the latest data is for March 2011! 

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DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 19 Dec 2016 (Veteran environmentalist and water conservationist Anupam Mishra passed away)

Above: Anupam Mishra ji at the inaugural session of India Rivers Week 2016

Very sad to say that Anupam Mishra ji is no more. He breathed his last at AIIMS, Delhi at 5.27 am today (Dec 19 2016).

A person with such clarity of thought on water and river issues of India, such effective and simple way of communication, so affectionate and yet so humble will be difficult to find. As Ravi Chopra says, he was truely ANUPAM.

He was chairman of organising committee of India Rivers Week 2016 and also member of of Bhagirath Prayas Samman Jury since inception in 2014 and chairman since 2015. In spite of his poor health and weak body, he came to our organising committee meeting several times, last one in Sept 2016 and also came to the inaugural session of IRW 2016 on Nov 28, 2016 and spoke with characteristic clarity and simplicity and yet effectiveness. He was completely exhausted and pain at the end of it, but that he came in spite of that showed his dedication to the cause.

Personally he was most affectionate and encouraging to me, for so many years. God only knows how can one think of losing someone like that.

Himanshu Thakkar Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 19 Dec 2016 (Veteran environmentalist and water conservationist Anupam Mishra passed away)”

Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 11 Oct 2016 (Is there any justification for DESTRUCTION of Panna Tiger Reserve?)

Is there any justification for DESTRUCTION of Panna Tiger Reserve? Can we save our Natural Heritage like the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) from being destroyed in the name of baseless, questionable, non transparent, undemocratic and manipulated projects like Ken Betwa inter linking ? It will facilitate export of water from Bundelkhand to OUTSIDE Bundelkhand. Whatever little benefits are claimed, some of them are already available and much more can become available at much lower costs, faster and without destroying the Forests and Tiger Reserve. The project will actually lead to destruction of Ken catchment and hence the Ken River itself. Watch this FASCINATING, AWESOME story of tigers of PTR. This BBC film where Raghu Chandawat is the story teller and Pradip Kishen is lending his voice, tells the story of Tigers of Panna till 2003, it seems. Please watch and let us all try to save it from destruction that is now writ large in terms of Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP). One more short film by wildlife biologist Koustubh Sharma illustrates how the Daudhan Dam under KBLP will submerge and destroy the PTR.

Meanwhile, a new analysis of rainfall data reveals that monsoon shortages are growing in river basins with surplus water and falling in those with scarcities, raising questions about India’s Rs 11 lakh crore plan to transfer water from “surplus” to “deficit” basins. According to Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP river basin interlinking should be considered only after exhausting the local potential for harvesting rain, recharging groundwater, watershed development, introducing better cropping patterns (non water-intensive crops) and methods (such as rice intensification), improving the soil moisture-holding capacity and saving and storing water. Raising alarm over significant increase in ground water use, increasing reliance and fast declining ground water table, he warns that inter-basin links would actually reduce groundwater recharge because forests would be destroyed, the river flow stopped and the local systems neglected.

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